IT’S hard not to feel frustrated in the aftermath of the UK Government’s recent drugs summit in our city.

Just 24 hours before, clinicians, social care professionals and those with lived experience of addiction had come to together to agree what Glasgow’s asks of Westminster would be. After all, leading UK ministers were coming to Scotland and promising an open mind. Surely these facts alone indicated a readiness to listen.

Instead, before their event had even begun, policing minister Kit Malthouse had dismissed the international expert evidence and appeals from Glasgow’s medical and third sector for safer drug consumption facilities as “a distraction”. Mr Malthouse’s solution to the hundreds dying on our streets from overdoses, HIV, viruses and infections? A tougher law and order approach.

Around the same time as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was announcing an additional £20million dedicated to reducing harms from drugs, Mr Malthouse had decided he’d had enough of Glasgow and headed back to London early. Even before the addiction experts invited to his event had spoken.

We could get despondent and allow our heads to drop, especially as many had believed a willingness to be more flexible was there. But Glasgow has a democratic mandate for a safer consumption facility, the public support and the expert and clinical capacity to deliver it. Our priority is saving lives in our city, not the rigid criminalisation of addiction.

We know the solutions to addiction are multi-faceted and long term but a safer drug consumption facility is an urgently needed addition to our existing core, mainstream treatment and care services.

The intervention of Karyn McCluskey in the aftermath of the summits was most welcome. Karyn is one of Scotland’s genuine visionaries, someone whose trailblazing work continues to transform lives and communities across our country.

Now helping homeless people and problem drug users through Community Justice Scotland, Karyn had previously been head of the pioneering Violence Reduction Unit, whose methods are now being deployed by police forces across the UK.

After visiting a safer consumption facility in Copenhagen, she has publicly voiced her support for Glasgow to be given the permission adopt a similar model as part of a wider approach to addiction and misuse. Karyn’s message was as compelling as it was blunt: action needs to be taken before more people die.

She said: “It isn’t easy, certainly, but what else is there in the face of all the deaths in Scotland. It’s not the single solution, of course not, but we should try to speak the uncomfortable truths among friends about what’s happening to our fellow human beings who’ve no-one to help them.

“People can and do recover – we need to make it seamless. Keeping people alive and as well as they can be until they make that choice is maybe what we need more of?

“The outcome is we want fewer people to die we and to reduce HIV.”

This isn’t a party political issue. Glasgow has had a broad consensus that this is the way forward, a vital tool in our armoury to save lives and start the road to recovery. If people don’t want to listen to politicians promoting solutions then I beg them not to ignore people like Karyn.

And on note of optimism, I don’t believe the door has been fully shut on us. I don’t believe Mr Malthouse’s voice is the only one making representations within the UK Government. I believe others within Westminster may be on an entirely different, more compassionate and indeed more pragmatic, page.

It’s incumbent upon all of us who seek solutions to this crisis to remain consistent with our message. Glasgow is ready and willing to work constructively with both Governments to find solutions which save lives and build better futures. But nothing can be off the table.

lAS we marked International Women’s Day at the weekend I was sorry to see another of my SNP colleagues, Aileen Campbell, announce she was leaving politics.

The pressures of juggling family life with the cut and thrust of Government, Parliament and duties as an MSP forced her to make a choice. As it did with Gail Ross MSP.

Scottish public life has in recent years had an increasingly strong female presence. Women who continue to change our nation for the better. They have brought a changed approach and different dynamics which continue to deliver so many of our progressive policies. International Women’s Day was a great opportunity to reflect on this.

Gail and Aileen will definitely be missed at Holyrood but I’ve no doubt their contribution will be just as valuable in whatever role they undertake next. Elected office is only one form of public service after all.